Local barn among "The Barns of Maine"
The Haines barn in East Bethel is among those featured in a new book entitled "The Barns of Maine: Our History, Our Stories." Author Don Perkins of Raymond, a former carpenter and woodworker, described many different barns from around the state in a presentation last week at the Bethel Historical Society.
For four years, Perkins traveled all over Maine researching the characteristics of historic barns and the people behind them. He identified three generations or phases of barns.
The first phase, typically known as the “English” phase, began in England and came to the New World, springing up all over New England. It is found mostly in Washington County. These barns are relatively small and detached from houses. Because of its isolated nature, Washington County continued the English style much later than other areas of the state. The second phase, the New England or Yankee style was prevalent in Maine from roughly 1800 to the 1930s. These barns were designed primarily to raise livestock. Many are attached to houses.
The third and final phase, the large, tall gambrel barns comprise most of the barns in Aroostook County and are detached from houses. Most Aroostook barns were built after 1900 for commercial purposes. Although they were originally built for horses and hay, after World War II they soon transformed to store equipment and machinery.
In areas outside of Washington and Aroostook counties, barns generally follow the New England or Yankee style, with a gable entry.
Early barns were solidly built using hand-hewn timber. Many were held together using English tying joints.
Perkins said the English tying joint has a lineage of more than 500 years from medieval England to America. The construction didn’t change until the Civil War, when sawing timber came into more widespread use. “In my opinion, any barn with an English tying joint should be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places,” Perkins said.
Such joints were used in the Haines Barn in East Bethel, where two barns from entirely different centuries are joined, displaying stylistic elements from two completely different eras.
The Haines barn is part of Powderhorn Farm, which has been in the Haines family since 1937.
The home was built by Revolutionary War veteran Captain Amos Powers in the early 1800s.
A modern tie-up section was added to the barn in 1960 to allow the farm to continue dairy farming, according to Perkins’ book. The new tie-up measured 36 by 36 square feet, and about 20 cattle were milked twice a day.
The 1960s barn was different from its forebears. Newly adopted regulations called for cement floors, where hoses could effectively clean them of pathogens.
Hay was kept in the old barn where the calving area was located.
Because of the topography, the addition was dug into an uphill slope. Constructing a manure basement was not possible, nor was it advocated as growing awareness of disease transmission mandated that manure be handled differently, usually someplace outdoors.
Perkins’ book also describes the challenges that faced the Haines farm, brought on by modern regulations.
In 1969, the farm discontinued the dairy business.
The Haines Farm today
James Haines, grandson of the original owner of the farm, is now the third generation owner. His uncle, Peter Haines, who had owned Powderhorn Farm, passed away in January, and James’ family deeded their share of the farm to him.
James said he regrets that his uncle passed away before Don Perkins’ book was published. James met Don two years ago when he was interviewing his uncle about the history of the farm and barn for the book. Don was exploring ways to have his book published and James was pleased to help support the project. Now that the book has been released, James said he is very happy to see his uncle’s story in it.
James was living in Gray when his uncle passed away. After the farm was deeded to him, he immediately put his house in Gray up for sale and, when it sold in May, moved to East Bethel with his partner, Darren Goyette.
James is currently making plans to renovate some of the farm house rooms with the help of his father, George, who lives on Kimball Hill in East Bethel. “My father is a skilled carpenter, and taught me the basics, but I welcome his help,” said James.
While he admits to doing farming as a “hobby,” he’s already making plans to raise some goats and chickens. He often visited a farm in Cumberland that raised goats and it sparked his interest. He’s looking into options for housing the goats and may use the lower tie-up of the barn. He said calves had been kept there back when the farm had dairy cows.
Various types of equipment and antique tractors are now housed in the barn, and it also serves as a workshop. James points with pride to a 1953 red tractor that was used for all farming needs back then.
He also calls attention to the rafters high above the tractor where an example of the English tying joint can be seen.
Just outside the barn in a large field overlooking the mountains, James wants to replant some fruit trees where his grandfather once had a grove.
James studied computer technology in college and worked in Portland. Someday he may consider returning to work in the computer field.
But for now he is busy working on the house and enjoying the peace and quiet of home at the farm that his grandparents bought some 75 years ago.
(Note: “The Barns of Maine: Our History, Our Stories” is available in the Bethel Historical Society’s Museum Shop or it may be ordered direct from the author at www.ourbarns.com. To contact the author or to find out more about Maine’s barns, visit www.ourbarns.com.)